September 22, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. (RPRN) 09/22/09 — By Al Pessin
A report from the new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan says there is an urgent need for more foreign troops and civilians, more Afghan forces and a new strategic approach to reverse Taliban gains.
The frank and mostly gloomy assessment by U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal is still officially secret, but the Washington Post published an unclassified version Monday, which it says has only a few deletions requested by the government.
In the document, the general, who arrived in Afghanistan in June, says "success is not ensured by additional forces alone, but continued under-resourcing will likely cause failure."
He writes the U.S. and NATO effort has long been "under-resourced," and that must change within 12 months or the coalition "risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible." He says a lack of even the "minimum" resources is "a recipe for failure" in a counterinsurgency," and the Taliban and related groups have made significant gains in recent years as a result.
General McChrystal says while the Afghan government and military "must ultimately defeat the insurgency," the coalition can not wait for the Afghans to be capable enough to do the job alone.
Although the Washington Post published most of the document on its website, Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to discuss its details, calling it "pre-decisional" and "classified." "The national security team, to include the commander-in-chief, have it. They are reviewing it. They will use it to help them make decisions about the future. The secretary (of Defense) is absorbing the assessment along with the president. If there are decisions that flow from that, they will make them at the appropriate time," the spokesman said.
Whitman would not say when General McChrystal will make his expected detailed request for more troops, or when a decision might be made.
On the president's aircraft Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters while the general may want more troops he does not expect a formal request for a little while. "We are going to conduct that strategic assessment and do that in a way that lays out the best path forward before we make resource decisions, rather than having this go the other way around where one makes resources decisions and then finds a strategy," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said any decision on troop levels will wait until the conclusion of a broader assessment of the way forward in Afghanistan, of which he indicated General McChrystal's document is only one part.
|U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, 17 Sep 2009|
Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appealed for patience, saying these are extremely important decisions, and the president should be given the time to get them right. The secretary indicated he, the president and other senior officials have sent questions to General McChrystal about his assessment, and are awaiting his answers.
Top: Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal receives the ISAF guidon during assumption of command ceremony in Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Courtesy of US Army;
Right: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (left) and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright answer questions from reporters during a press briefing in the Pentagon on Sept. 17, 2009. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Molly A. Burgess, U.S. Navy.
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